Carissa’s Best of 2017


Because it proved so popular last year, once again we’ve asked our reviewers to share the books they loved the best over the last year.  Some of their picks may be books they reviewed for us, some may be for adult readers, some may be new titles, some may be old favourites they’ve re-read over the last year – but all should be great choices for gifts and for summer reading.  Kicking it all off is Carissa…

Reviewer Carissa shares her picks for 2017…

Best picture book – Through the Gate – Sally Fawcett

This book is beautifully poignant, genius in its simplicity and its illustrations are irresistible. A girl has just moved into an old, battered house – and that’s how she feels too. As we turn the pages, the house is rejuvenated.  My kids love pointing out the changes each time. It’s just magic.



Best family read aloud – The Explorer – Katherine Rundell

Four kids survive a plane crash in the Amazon jungle with just the clothes they’re wearing. They have to trust each other, work together and step way outside their comfort zones to find food, build shelter and plan their way home. It’s a wonderful, empowering adventure.



Laugh–out-loud funny – The Watermelon Seed – Greg Pizzoli

This picture book is so much fun to read aloud – we laugh and scream! A young crocodile loves eating watermelon, but he freaks out when he swallows a seed. What’s going to happen to him? The illustrations are bold, in a striking palette of just black, white, watermelon and green. And there’s watermelon endpapers too – yum!



Favourite non-fiction for kids – 10 Reasons to Love an Elephant – Catherine Barr and Hanako Clulow

This is pitched just right for kids. There’s a fun cut-out little hands just want to touch on the cover, and inside we’re introduced to Asian and African elephants and given 10 reasons to love these amazing creatures. They’re reasons little kids can understand and relate to and there’s just the right amount of text. As well as information about elephants, readers also learn about ecosystems, conservation, relationships and pick up new vocabulary too. Love it.



Best activity book – How To Draw Cute Stuff – Angela Nguyen

This book has inspired my girls, 9, to pull out their pencils and have a go at drawing tricky things they might not usually try – and with great success too. I’m constantly finding it on the kitchen table surrounded by paper and pencils. There’s easy-to-follow instructions for drawing cute people, cute creatures and cute things. And, as expected, the illustrations are really cute.



Meet Reviewer Carissa Mason…

Carissa Mason devoured books as a child, scouring op shops on the weekend for vintage copies of Trixie BeldenNancy DrewThe Famous Five and anything else by Enid Blyton. When she was naughty, her mother would send her to her room, where she’d happily read all day. Carissa imagined she’d grow up to edit books – so she could be the first to read them –  but ended up sharing people’s stories as a journalist, then political press secretary instead. Now she’s raising three readers of her own, delighting in watching them move from illustrated stories to chapter books and discovering with them all the wonderful books that have been written since she grew up. Carissa is active within the children’s book community on Instagram and occasionally blogs.

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